The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
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Although Kalamazoo, Michigan is known as a craft beer town, it is also becoming known as a craft coffee town, to our great delight. We are lucky enough to have a slew of excellent coffee shops, creating artisanal, craft coffee drinks - think no chains (except one local), third wave coffee and small batch roasters. We have so many great options that it is hard to choose where to go! Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re stopping by, or you’re a Kalamazoo native, dig in - you’ll find a new favorite (or five).

The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Black Owl

This is the most hipster of hipster hangouts. That said, it is a down to earth, beautiful place, with excellent coffee. In warm weather, there’s an outdoor patio. Black Owl now serves brunch from Thursday through Sunday - check their instagram for a preview of the deliciousness to come. There are about 4-5 tables here, and then seating at the coffee bar and on high perch stools looking out the window. I often take visitors from out of town to Black Owl - it’s an unusual coffee shop look, with a variety of beverages that will suit everyone in your party. Black Owl has been named Best Coffeeshop in Michigan by MLive (good taste, that!).

Black Owl. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops
 
Vibe: Laid back, too cool for school, for serious coffee people (and tea people, but I’m not one, so…).

Look: Located in an old brick building with a gorgeous interior. Reclaimed wooden walls, quirky decor, a sense of humor, and a bathroom that is internationally famous.

Wifi: Strong! Password is written on the wall above the coffee beans for sale.

Beans: Their own: Kalamazoo Coffee Co. Roasted on-site. Buy the beans in shop and around town!

Black Owl. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Beverages: A variety of drinks, from coffee to tea and more. The baristas are top-notch. The teas are hand-blended.

Taste: FRESH beans!! Because they are their own roaster, their beans are incredibly fresh. Consistently excellent coffee drinks.

Black Owl. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Quirks: The bathroom is a work of art – be sure to go in there and take a look (and a few photos, if awards and social media mentions are anything to judge it by). 

Parking: Free street parking, free private lot behind the building

Find: 414 Walbridge St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
http://kalamazoocoffeecompany.com/black-owl/

Brite Eyes Brewing Company

Honestly, coffee is a side note to this local brewing company. However, if you are with friends who prefer beer to coffee, but you still want to hang out and get YOUR favorite beverage, this is a great option. Brite Eyes has cafe drinks, an espresso machine, and brewed coffee. There is also beer, wine, cider, and mead, all brewed in small batches, if that makes your friends happy. There’s a big menu, so go hungry!

Brite Eyes Brewing Company. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Quirky casual.

Look: Large open windows, tables and chairs, and large metal artwork.

Wifi: Located at the bottom of your receipt.

Beans: Kalamazoo Coffee Company for espresso and crafted beverages, 8’o clock coffee for brewed.

Beverages: Go for the crafted espresso drinks, obviously. There’s a large menu, with some items you won’t see at other local shops, including a red eye and a cafe breve.

Taste: Anything with Kalamazoo Coffee Beans will be delicious. I haven't tried the brewed coffee.

Quirks: This is a fun hangout for people that need a variety of beverages. Also: OPEN LATE!

Parking: Free private lot

Find: 1156 S. Burdick St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
http://briteeyesbrewingco.com/

Caffe Casa

One of the oldest coffee shops in town, Caffe Casa has been in business since 1992. You’ll find a huge menu of beverages, as well as food. If you’re hungry AND thirsty, head here. There are also large tables for groups, a couch and a few small tables near the entrance, and a piano. Think convivial evenings with friends. 

Caffe Casa. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Hidden treasure. 

Look: It’s a bit dark in here, but the plants, art, and lighting make up for it.

Wifi: Ask at the counter for the password. It wasn’t strong on my phone, no laptop testing as of yet.

Beans: Paramount Beans from Lansing - a signature classic Italian espresso roast.

Beverages: Caffe Casa has the most extensive beverage menu in town. 

Caffe Casa. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Taste: I prefer a lighter roast, but the latte I had was perfectly foamed.

Quirks: There’s a lovely global display of coffee and tea pots on the shelves behind the counter. My favorite? The one with the evil eye! See if you can spot this treasure.

Parking: Street parking, downtown

Find: 128 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Caffe-Casa/121192034560809

Chocolatea

The least coffee of all coffee shops on this list! Coming in, you might actually not get a coffee - instead, order tea and dessert, and walk away with a teapot and several tea blends. 

Chocolatea. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: tea shop!

Look: Chocolatea is mostly a store - you walk in, and there are walls of tea blends and shelves of teapots and accessories to purchase. 

Wifi: Located at the checkout counter

Beans: Coffee Express, Plymouth, MI

Beverages: Teas! Also, there’s a vast bubble tea selection (delicious, and one of only 2 places in town to get bubble tea). The coffee drinks are average - they definitely shine in tea. Look on their website for seasonal specials: my favorite for this spring is the Peter Cottontail Frappe - a sunny Horchata flavor everybunny will love blended into a creamy, icy drink that will keep you cool as the weather heats up!

Taste: The bubble tea is sweet. The teas are masterfully blended. The coffee drinks fit the bill.

Chocolatea. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Quirks: Check out the huge array of chocolates - get some as a gift (for yourself. Ok, for others, too). 

Chocolatea. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Parking: Free private lot

Find: 7642 S. Westnedge Ave, Portage, MI 49002
https://www.chocolatea.com/ 

Civil House Coffee

With a small menu but with a hallmark for excellence in coffeemaking, Civil House will fulfill your craft coffee needs, as well as your eye for the aesthetic. The baristas are friendly and helpful, and very skilled. The light is clean and clear, and even walking in, pre-coffee, you feel happy. We've been waiting for this new coffee shop for a while, and are very glad they are open!

Civil House Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Chill. Work here or meet friends – it’s a very welcoming place.

Look: simple, modern, high copper ceilings, plenty of light, a lovely, inviting space.

Wifi: Written on the menu board. Strong signal.

Beans: Madcap (Grand Rapids), Quills, Verve, and Proud Mary.

Beverages: Very simple menu. Our daughter, who isn’t a coffee lover, very much enjoyed the vanilla latte – she found it tasty, smooth, and comforting. I absolutely love my pourovers and lattes. 

Civil House Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Taste: Incredible - everything here is made with precision and care. 

Quirks: the first few times you’re here, you’ll want to boomerang (or just stare at) the pourover machine, called a poursteady. It’s an incredible, automated machine that can make up to 5 at once - so you won’t be waiting for your pourover, while it is getting cold. After that becomes old hat, then head down the counter to the espresso machine. It’s a work of art. 

Civil House Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Parking: Street/ramp parking, downtown

Find: 344 N Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
https://www.civilhouse.coffee/

Coexist Café  (alas, temporarily closed)

Have you been looking, since the 90s, for a Central Perk-type coffee shop? If so, then Coexist is your happy place. Beverage in hand, settle into the gorgeously worn orange velvety couch. Whether you’re there to study (tables and chairs), meet friends, read, or listen to live music and open mic nights, Coexist is a lovely coffee shop that meets many needs. If you need sustenance, there are prepared foods (baked goods, sandwiches, etc.).

Coexist Café. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Calm, down to earth, cozy if you snag the couch, an excellent place to study (since there can be quite a few people studying, if you’re meeting with friends, you’ll find yourself talking quietly).

Look: earthy with reclaimed barn wood walls, penny floor, plenty of plants, lots of open light from the large windows.

Wifi: You have to ask for the password. Wifi is strong.

Beans: Euphoria (Kalamazoo), Uncommon Grounds (Saugatuck).

Beverages: Extensive menu (the biggest coffee menu in town!), and a monthly themed selection of drinks – past months have included Harry Potter and Tolkien.

Taste: Bright and fresh. The coffee is well-made, and delicious. There is a wide variety of roasts to choose from, which I appreciate as a light roast aficionado. The tea selection is astoundingly good, always refreshing whether hot or cold.

Coexist Café. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Quirks: Monthly themed beverage menu, SUPER cute logo and tshirts, plants for sale, and a bookshelf – and, of course, the Friends couch.

Parking: Free private lot

Coexist Café. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops
 
Find: 2901 Howard St
https://www.facebook.com/Coexistkalamazoo/

Factory Coffee

With restored wooden floors, motorbikes and motors scattered around, and exposed brick walls, this coffee shop is an artsy, hipster hangout. There are tall tables and regular tables, both with chairs/stools - and a new lounge area is planned, WITH a couch! This is a great place to get work done, so bring your laptop. However, if you are meeting friends, you don’t feel like you need to be quiet. I also appreciate that it is open late – from 7am-7pm, unusual hours in this town. We are not morning people and often find ourselves looking for coffee shops that are open later – thank you, Factory Coffee! You know what is fun? There’s a secret menu!!

Factory Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: calm, peaceful, friendly.

Look: Quirky - wood floors, motorbikes and motors, clean white tables and brick walls, gorgeous ceramic art. Artists work here! Beverages are served in pottery mugs made at the on-site ceramics studio.

Factory Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Wifi: 2 sets of wifi here. There's one that doesn't require a login. If that isn't strong enough, ask for the password for the secure one.

Beans: Multiroaster, but seems to be partial to Ritual Coffee.

Beverages: delicious coffee of all kinds, cocoa, babyccinos for the kids, and now with homemade chai and chocolate and caramel syrups. Check instagram for specials.

Taste: Excellent lattes – I always wish they were bigger! Serving Sarkozy baked goods.

Factory Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Quirks: Home of the Latte Art Throwdown, Factory Coffee is intent on creating and maintaining community in a variety of ways - yoga and other classes upstairs, a pottery studio downstairs (Grayling Ceramics), and support for other coffee shops in town. Also: Best Instagram Game in town. Bravo!

Additionally: There is an outpost over at People's Food Co-op!

Parking: Free private lot

Find: 213 E. Frank St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
https://www.facebook.com/factorycoffeekzoo/

Fido Motors Cafe (alas, closed for now)

By far, this is the most creative coffee shop in town, and has an artistic feel to it, with the drinks, people, and the look of the shop. It’s located in the same building as Fido Motors, which creates custom scooters and motorbikes. You can see into that space from the interior windows of the coffee shop. The shiny brick walls remind us of the entrance to Diagon Alley.

Fido Motors Cafe. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

With high-perch stools at tall tables, this coffee shop has a ways to go with accessible seating. Luckily for us, an expansion is planned, and we’ve requested wheelchair accessible tables. 

Fido Motors Cafe. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Creative, industrial, softened with plants and natural light.

Look: Clean walls, lovely windows letting in the sunshine, plants galore, and, wait for it, MOTORBIKES hanging on the wall. Yep. Very tumblr aesthetic.

Wifi: Password located on the condiments bar.

Fido Motors Cafe. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Beans: Populace Coffee, Bay City, Michigan.

Beverages: With housemade almond milk, chai, syrups, and a rotating seasonal menu of flavored beverages (all of the aforementioned are extraordinary), you’d think their coffee would be somewhat ignored. Nope. It’s ALL DELICIOUS!

Taste: Best in town, no matter what you order.

Quirks: Lovely, rotating seasonal menu, full of delicious beverages. Every barista is interesting, and it’s fun to talk with them.  If you go between 2-3pm, there is a happy hour special of $1 off each beverage. Also, try their tea lattes - they are extraordinary (our top photo  here features the golden yunnan tea latte in the glass mug).

Parking: Free private lot
 
Find: 1415 Fulford St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
https://fidomotorscafe.com/

Fourth Coast

I asked long-time Fourth Coast customer and Kalamazoo Community Yelp Ambassador Beth Clark to chime in on this coffeeshop. Here’s her take:
FC had a long tradition of being both a treasured hangout among the AA community and a huge hangout for card players and board gamers, as well as a study spot for students. We were pretty crushed when they recently took out the larger tables that easily accommodated groups. I think part of Fourth Coast's oddball vibe is that it attracts a super wide variety of people ... and then they wind up being life-long friends. I would on a given day chat with a Reverend who runs a taxi company, an ultra-pierced punk rocker who's also a fine artist and antique dealer, students studying for their exams, hipsters reading the Odyssey for fun, and smack-talking spades players just about breaking tables as they slammed cards down with karate chop-like intensity. That joint was my JAM when I was in college! It's always been dimly lit and a bit dreary feeling (especially back when all its patrons chained smoked and the ceilings were lower). One of the perks of Fourth Coast is being able to order food from Crow's Nest that they'll deliver to your table downstairs. We take advantage of that awesome perk - and their food is incredible!

Fourth Coast. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: quirky ... All oddballs welcome.

Look: Eclectic, but a bit off-putting after the recent remodel.

Wifi: Ask the barista.

Beans: Coffee Express from Plymouth, roasted especially for Fourth Coast.

Fourth Coast. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Beverages: Their frozen/ice cream drinks are to die for but a pain to make (mainline and the frozen mocha).

Taste: The bakery really is the standout here in the taste department. 

Quirks: Nothing but. This has long been the haunt of quirky locals who love the Vine neighborhood.

Parking: Free private lot, free street parking

Find: 816 S. Westnedge, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
https://www.facebook.com/FourthCoastCafe/

Rose Gold Coffee Company

Finally, the long-awaited, vegan-friendly coffeeshop of our dreams is here. Rose Gold is a lovely place to meet friends, work, or sit in the windowseat and daydream. It's owned and staffed by even lovelier people. Of note is the availability of oat milk - hella good! The location, in an historic restored brick building that previously housed a jewelry store (one of the reasons it is named thusly), is central to downtown and easy to get to. You can tell it is run by artists, because the aesthetic gives off a rare calming effect. Once you enter, Rose Gold immediately welcomes you in.

Rose Gold Coffee Company. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Chill, relaxing, down to earth, extremely peaceful and yet full of new joy.

Look: Modern, cool, elegant.

Wifi: We went prior to the grand opening and it wasn't installed yet. It will be!

Beans: Commonplace Coffee Co. (Pittsburgh), and Michigan-based Littlefoot Coffee Roasting (coming soon).

Beverages: Single origin coffee, pourovers or filtered, and crafted espresso drinks. We loved the pumpkin latte with oat milk, and the mocha latte (not too sweet, YAY!). Homemade syrups include vanilla, lavender vanilla, cocoa, pumpkin, and vegan caramel. Teas, steamers, and chai latte also available. 

Rose Gold Coffee Company. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Taste: Original, simple, not too sweet (thank you).

Quirks: A delicious plant-based bakery is wonderful. Thank you for making coffee shop goodies available to all, including our vegan friends. Also: WINDOW SEATS!

Rose Gold Coffee Company. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Parking: Street or ramp parking. Free parking on the street out front, if you can snag it.

Find: 220 W Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007
https://www.instagram.com/rosegoldcoffeeco/

Something's Brewing

This is the epitome of a neighborhood coffee shop. Most people seem to get their coffees to go (perhaps to enjoy them in Bronson Park?). There are a few small tables with chairs, but the best seating is either in the small back room (2 comfy chairs!) or at one of two tables outside on the sidewalk, in summer. My favorite part of this shop is the daily offering of home-baked goods. When I first saw the homemade cinnamon pop-tarts via social media, we headed downtown as fast as possible. Located across from the library. It's the oldest coffee shop in town, started in 1984.

Something's Brewing. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Relaxed, your local neighborhood coffee shop.

Look: Narrow but packed with a punch. Look for funny sayings and interesting art.

Wifi: Ask for the password at the counter.

Something's Brewing. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Beans: Magnum Coffee, Nunica, MI

Beverages: In the summer, aim for the ice cream beverages - they are such a treat! 

Taste: The coffee is good, but the hot chocolate is smooth, rich, and full. And, the ice cream beverages are refreshing and just enough.

Quirks: HOMEMADE POP-TARTS. If you see them on the menu, in person, or on social media, get down there as fast as you can (or call and reserve one, as we have). They sell out fast. Crispy, flaky, flavorful deliciousness. You’re welcome. 

Something's Brewing. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Parking: Street/ramp parking, downtown

Find: 120 W South St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
https://www.facebook.com/SBCoffeeKzoo/

Table of Contents

This cafe is for people who love books and reading. There’s a gorgeous grey couch to claim, bar seating, and smaller tables with chairs. Above all, there are BOOKS! This is a really good place to stop for a coffee if you are also shopping for books. (Can you tell we love books?!) 

Table of Contents. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Much better than a Starbucks in a Barnes & Noble, but with a similar feel. 

Look: Bookstore! With coffee!

Wifi: Written on a sign posted on the bookshelf near the trash can. Strong signal.

Beans: Euphoria Coffee, Kalamazoo.

Beverages: Delicious menu in the cafe, but what gets me are the beverage sizes: poem, short story, and novel. LOVE!

Table of Contents. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Taste: Delicious lattes. If you’re ordering a chai, asked if it is homemade or boxed. When they first opened, we were immensely disappointed that it was boxed. 

Quirks: TOC’s instagram feed is wonderful - check it out for books and coffee-themed photos that inspire reading and coffee drinking. Baked goods from the Victorian Bakery.

Parking: Free private lot 

Find: 3017 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
https://www.facebook.com/Table-of-Contents-Cafe-502039696836250/

Totally Brewed

It’s rare to find coffee and a full menu, but this deli offers lattes, chai, teas, and smoothies to go with your meal. 

Vibe: Office worker/deli.

Look: clean, bright inside because of floor to ceiling windows, outdoor seating in warm weather.

Totally Brewed. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Beans: Ferris Coffee, Grand Rapids.

Parking: Street/ramp parking, downtown.

Totally Brewed. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Find: 151 S. Rose, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Totally-Brewed-Cafe/113546708678768

Walnut & Park

I asked fellow Yelp Elite Eve Dew, who has been a regular lately at Walnut & Park, for her opinions. Here's what she had to say… 
Whether you breeze in and out of a coffee shop once every seven days to get your weekly latte fix, or you camp out at one almost every day (or you visit with any degree of frequency in between), this is “IT” for you.

In the ‘regular’ category, folks camp out, take the best seats and cement themselves there, take up a lot of space, run their power cords across the floor, hold meetings, etc. However, this place is a total opposite: No power cords running across, since there are plenty of outlets at the bottom of where you sit (right by the legs area), and they’ve got space for all their guests.  How neat and thoughtful is this idea?! :) 

Walnut & Park. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Great Atmosphere to catch up with friends, do homework, or have some meetings. The corner booth also gives a great change of scenery and energy in collaboration of the sunlight coming through the glass, making it a true destination for a day with coffee.

Look: A pleasant and engaging place to be in, with no loud music. Clean and great decor for the outlines just sets the right tone. Love the coffee cabinets, where they sell the coffee accessories, as well. Too busy inside? No worries, W&P has a great outdoor space for you. Step outside to a little courtyard (deck): a perfect place to sip coffee on sunny days and enjoy the ambiance.

Wifi: It’s right on the wall across from the complimentary station. :) It’s strong!

Beans: Water Street (Kalamazoo) and Stovetop Roasters (Ann Arbor).

Beverages: Great variety - always ask the Barista what would be a great combination if you’d want to try some extra add on. My favorite is Warm Drizzled Caramel Macchiato. Wandering Educators note: Our daughter loves the peach chai smoothie with almond milk and whipped cream. It’s fruit plus summer, perfect cold blend for the new season. The chai is not spicy, although it has a bit of a kick next to the peach flavor.

Walnut & Park. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Taste: They make a great cup of coffee (there’s a bit of variability based on the barista on hand, but quite good on average). Don’t forget to try the In house production of Pastry and Baked goods with your cup of joe; they’re to die for. Even if you aren’t into coffee, it’s worth visiting W&P -  they have a great selection of lunches and Pastry. There is something for everyone here, including a variety of coffee drinks that will have you coming back for more. And have fun ordering your drink.

Quirks: We absolutely LOVE the mission of W&P. Take a look: “Most Walnut & Park employees are residents of KPEP, an innovative community corrections provider based here in Kalamazoo. The men and women who prepare the lattes, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches and salads are students or graduates of the KPEP culinary arts program – a vocational program developed in partnership with Canteen Services and the Michigan Career & Technical Institute. This rigorous 10-week training program equips men and women who have been incarcerated with the job skills they need to help turn their lives around, live independently and contribute to the community. Graduates earn culinary arts and ServSafe certifications and can put these skills to work, not only at Walnut & Park, but at restaurants, hotels, food service companies and other employers in and around the Kalamazoo area.”

Walnut & Park. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Parking: Free private lot

Find: 322 W Walnut St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
http://walnutandparkcafe.com/

Water Street Coffee

Located in an old, abandoned gas station, Water Street Coffee began as a one man shop in 1993, and is now a valued and important place in our community. There are several other locations, which have the look and feel of a Panera. At any Water Street Coffee Shop, you can also get amazing homemade food, including baked goods, soups, sandwiches, salads, etc. Water Street handmakes their own syrups, with interesting flavors.

Water Street Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: feels like a cabin, packed with friends.

Look: Cozy, small, often-crowded with people working and friends chatting.

Wifi: Password is located on the board next to the trash can.

Beans: Roast their own (you can purchase them all around town!) 

Beverages: All of the coffee drinks I’ve ordered here have been tasty. However, might I suggest you veer off the path, in winter, and order a sleeping bear mocha? Not only for the Michigan theme, but because it is the best chocolate espresso drink I’ve had - rich and dark. YUM.

Water Street Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Taste: The white chocolate vanilla latte with whipped cream tasted like a milk latte, with no white chocolate or vanilla taste - it’s very expensive for a small amount. The pourovers are lovely, as is the Sleeping Bear Mocha.

Quirks: This has such an amazing backstory - and the purpose - quality, creativity, and community - is evident in everything they do.

Parking: Free private lot. Very small - additional parking is located behind the building, across the RR tracks

Water Street Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Find:  Original Location @ 315 E Water St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
https://waterstreetcoffee.com/downtown/

Available at Food Trucks/Farmer’s Markets

Coffee Rescue Food Truck

Now in its 6th year, Coffee Rescue is one of Kalamazoo's first Food Trucks. Family-operated by Kalamazoo natives (and WMU graduates), they began in Sept 2012 as a way to provide income for a family member experiencing a financial crisis. Owner Jamie Brock bought the business from the original owner (her brother) in April 2014 after they had successfully helped their family get back on track, building a large customer base in the process. There are two trucks now, as well as having an innovative distribution system for their signature roast coffees (light and dark roast).

Look: An ambulance! A food truck!

Coffee Rescue Food Truck. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Beans: Coffee Rescue Signature Roasts (Light and Dark) are a blend of Ethiopian, Salvadorian, and Peruvian beans, ground fresh and brewed with reverse-osmosis filtered water. Aroma: Floral notes, soft, tropical fruity aromas. Coffee Rescue Blends are roasted locally at Gordon Water (AZO Coffee), and she uses their reverse-osmosis water systems for her brewing methods.   

Beverages: include brewed coffee, espresso drinks (hot or iced), hot drinks (hot or iced), and cold drinks, such as italian soda, frapps, lemonade, and more.

Taste: Bright, crisp notes of lemon and citrus, dark chocolate, caramel. Low acidity.  Medium body, smooth finish.

Quirks: locally-sourced, fresh-baked goods daily (donuts, cookies, cinnamon rolls, brownies, muffins, etc) onboard each truck. Available for scheduled deliveries, as well as indoor and outdoor events and catering. 

Find: http://www.coffeerescue.net/
Photo: Jamie Brock

Dotty Mobile Coffee & Cocktail Bar

Dotty is a retrocamper turned mobile coffee bar. Its dark wood counters, windows, and artistic feel make it the center of attention at the Kalamazoo Farmer's Market. The focus of Dotty is to provide local and organic coffee and espresso drinks made fresh in front of you. Enjoy the market as you wait for your beverage to be made right in front of you. 

Dotty Mobile Coffee Bar. From the Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Retro, Shabbychic, and Rustic. 

Beans: Always organic, from Water Street. 

Beverages: Almond Joy is an iced espresso drink featuring their handmade coconut-chocolate almond milk. Vegan or not, its delicious! 

 Dotty Mobile Coffee Bar. From the Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Taste: Simple menu but delicious and fresh espresso and coffee. Don't miss their Rishi tea selection either for refreshing herbal teas. 

 Dotty Mobile Coffee Bar. From the Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Find: http://theorganicgypsy.com/dotty/
Interior and square photos: Organic Gypsy

Mamaleelu Cold Brew

Maliesha Pullano is the owner of Mamaleelu Cold Brew LLC, established in 2014. Mammaleelu is one of the only (if not only) BLACK-female owned cold brew companies in the U.S.. She started her company with a business builders grant from a local organization (Can Do Kitchen). The grant was focused on helping people who had little to zero financial assets or capital, and allowed her, a laid off single mother, to start her own coffee business!

Vibe: fast, fun, Mama, and community.

Beans: Single source, expertly roasted coffee beans, small batch and hand-crafted by Higher Grounds, Traverse City, Michigan. The roast is a special Mamaleelu roast. The concentrate is produced with the first-pressing. 

Beverages: Cold brew concentrate - and a line of Ready To Drinks will be arriving in the late spring-early summer!

Taste: The concentrate is Strong. Black. Bold. Smoother than espresso, when mixed with other ingredients, Mamaleelu Cold Brew concentrate can be transformed to the liking of all palates. Add milk (dairy or other) for a smooth, creamy, mild take on the concentrate. Flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon can be added to create a sweet and indulgent afternoon treat. May be served Iced or Hot.

Mamaleelu Cold Brew. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Find: https://www.facebook.com/mamaleelucoldbrew/
Photo: Ma Zawi

Java Jones

Founded by a former Upjohn exec whose passion is coffee roasting, Java Jones has an unusual method of roasting coffee – over a hardwood fire! Find Java Jones at local farmer’s markets year round.

Java Jones. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Beans: The beans are sold in a variety of single origin and blended roasts, from light to dark, as well as decaf and those with natural organic flavoring.

Beverages: coffee for sale on site as beans or brewed.

Taste: smoky, delicious.

Java Jones. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Quirks: the taste! It’s unique and worth trying.

Find: https://www.facebook.com/javajoneshandcraftedcoffee/

 

And in nearby Paw Paw, coffee shops well worth including:

 

Greenglass Coffee

Greenglass is such a special place that it is worth driving 18 miles from Kalamazoo to Paw Paw for an extraordinary coffee experience. There is a fantastic regular menu, but look for specials, as well. Family-run, this is a coffee shop that fits right in with a neighborhood vibe, no matter where you live.

Greenglass Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Vibe: Chill, Relaxed, Warm, Friendly.

Look: Cute, Cozy, Vintage, Hip. And can you spy the coffee plant in the window?

Greenglass Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Wifi: free

Beans: Freshly roasted, right in back! All of the beans are single origin and responsibly sourced.

Cups: Ceramic/glass

Beverages: Crafted espresso, Americano, Cappuccino, Latte, Mocha, Cafe Miel; pourover coffee, drip coffee, teas, chai latte, matcha and matcha latte, hot chocolate, steamers. 

Greenglass Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Taste: DELICIOUS. This is, hands down, one of my favorite coffee shops.

Quirks: If you have time, ask for a cupping! Colin and Michelle will gladly do this. We SO enjoyed it, and learned a lot.

Greenglass Coffee. From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Parking: free street parking, lot in back

Find: 229 E Michigan Ave, Paw Paw, MI 49079

https://www.greenglasscoffee.com/

 

 

Van Buren Coffee Company/Tudor House Tea & Spice

It's hard to come here and NOT order tea, since there is so much to choose from (and there are no wrong choices! However, if you're a coffee fiend that adores good beans, this is the place to go downtown. Their sister company, Van Buren Coffee Company, has freshly roasted beans for a chemex pourover, with fair or direct trade coffee. I like the simple coffee menu and unfussiness of the selections. This place is an excellent choice if you're heading out with tea-loving friends, or are looking to decompress. It's a calm place in a busy world.

Vibe: Tea shop with a surprising coffee option; knowledgeable and friendly staff. Look for creative and delicious specials.

Tudor House Tea! From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Look: Currently being renovated due to flooding

Wifi: not available

Beans: Van Buren Coffee Company (which we adore)

Tudor House Tea! From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Beverages: chemex pourovers, handmade tea bleands from fair or direct trade connections. Non-dairy milks available.

Taste: Locally roasted, you KNOW this coffee is fresh. Delicious!

Quirks: The choices are wide, so plan to sniff a lot of tea, if you're ordering that, or peruse the shop while your chemex is being made, before sitting in the beautiful, sun-filled front of the shop. Locally made treats are available, to go along with yoru coffee!

Tudor House Tea! From The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

Parking: Free parking lot

Find: 38772 W Red Arrow Hwy suite b, Paw Paw

https://vanburencoffee.com/
http://tudorhousetea.com/

 

Pin for later:
The Complete Guide to Kalamazoo Coffee Shops

 

Lastly, if you’re a coffee lover, don’t miss our guide to the 50 best Midwest coffee roasters.

What's your favorite coffee shop in town?

 

All photos copyright Wandering Educators, except where noted

Note: This article was originally published in 2018, and updated in 2020